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DM-1 Post-FRR Presser

DM-1 Post-FRR Presser



  • Joshua Finch, NASA Communications


  • Bill Gerstenmaier, Associate Administrator, NASA Human Exploration and Operations

  • Kathy Lueders, Manager, NASA Commercial Crew Program

  • Hans Koenigsmann, Vice President of Build and Flight Reliability, SpaceX

  • Kirk Shireman, Manager, International Space Station Program

  • Norm Knight, Deputy Director, JSC Flight Operations

Joshua Finch, Moderator: Good evening and welcome to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. I'm Joshua Finch of NASA Communications and we're here to discuss the SpaceX Demo-1 mission, the first uncrewed flight test of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft on a Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station as a part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program. Teams from NASA and SpaceX just completed the Flight Readiness Review ahead of the mission, and here to talk more about it today I'm pleased to be joined by William Gerstenmaier, Associate Administrator, Human Exploration and Operations at NASA Headquarters, Kathy Lueders, Manager, NASA Commercial Crew Program at Kennedy Space Center, Hans Koenigsmann, Vice President, Build and Flight Reliability at SpaceX, Kirk Shireman, Manager, International Space Station Program at Johnson Space Center, and Norm Knight, Deputy Director, Flight Operations Directorate at Johnson Space Center. We'll begin with opening comments from each of our presenters, and then we'll turn it over to questions and answers from those in the room. You can also ask questions online using the hashtag #askNASA. Mr. Gerstenmaier?

Bill Gerstenmaier, HEOMD: Thanks. It's great to be here at the Kennedy Space Center again, and just to have completed a pretty long day and a long Flight Readiness Review. And it's great to see the teams come together and work through the issues and get ready for flight. It's exciting to see us get ready for this test flight, and we talked about as really, it's a test flight, but it's more than a test flight. It's really a mission to the International Space Station. It's part of the Commercial Crew Program, and it really gets us ready for the DM-2 and the crewed flight that comes up later. So this is absolutely a critical first step that we do as we move towards eventually returning a crewed launch capability back here to the US. So just a very, very exciting day today. We went through a lot of topics, a lot of issues. A lot of work's been done by the teams. I think as I step back, I was really impressed by the working relationship between the teams across the agency, and the amount of work that's gone into this flight and to this mission and this vehicle and this design is just phenomenal. The teams have spent many hours getting ready, working lots of issues, and moving forward. And it's exciting to have set the launch date for March 2nd at 2:48AM on Saturday, a week from tomorrow. It's great that we're getting ready to go do this.

We still carried out of this review one action. We want to go look at how the software operates when we're on the velocity vector approaching the Space Station, and how all that works and how the abort scenario works, what triggers can occur. So there was an action assigned to go look at that. We had a dissenting opinion on that topic from one of our international partners. We'll continue to work that, but we're go for launch, we're go for docking, and we'll work through that over the next week. But again, just a phenomenal review today. I look forward to your questions. It's great being back here again. It's great, starting to get that feeling of launching again and getting ready to go fly. So, with that I'll turn it over to Kathy.

Kathy Lueders, CCP: You know, as I was sitting there in the room today, I had to think about in 2014, when we had put out the original RFP, and then the original RFP, as we were building requirement sets, we only had the requirement for a single crewed test flight. And both our current providers, Boeing and SpaceX, had come in and proposed an uncrewed demonstration mission. And over this last nine months as we've really been getting ready for this mission, I realized what a gift it has been for us to have this uncrewed test mission. Not only for what it's going to give us, and I'll talk in a little bit about all the demonstrations that we'll be doing on this mission, but really for allowing us the opportunity to get ready for the mission, and working through the process to go through the paper closeouts and the reviews on first an uncrewed test flight, getting ready for a crewed test flight.

So, if you could pull up the slide I have? This just shows all the benefits we're getting out of this uncrewed mission. There's a lot of things you can prepare for on the ground, and through analysis and test, and we do all of that on the ground. But there's nothing like actually flying a mission to be able to really check out all the key systems that we'll need to be exercising to get ready for our next mission. Like Mr. Gerstenmaier said, even though this is a test mission for us, and for us getting ready to fly our crewed test flights, we've also been very aware that this is a mission and a vehicle that's going to the Space Station, and we need to make sure that it can safely go rendezvous and dock with the Space Station, and undock safely, and not pose a hazard to the International Space Station. So the team's been very focused on that. And as we've been getting ready for this review, we've been keeping that focus in mind. The safety of the ISS crews, but yet making sure that we're checking out the key parts of the system for us getting ready for our crewed missions.

I was lucky enough a few weeks ago to be able to walk out to the pad with Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken and walk up to the vehicle, and it really gave us a sense of getting ready and realizing that the next vehicle that we're going to be walking up to on the pad is going to be their crewed flight test. And it really made me further realize and emphasize how important this mission is for us to do and to learn from, and then apply it not only to our crewed test flight coming up, but we'll take that learning into our abort test that we'll have coming up. And we'll take all that learning to make sure that we're going to be making our crewed flight test as safe as possible. So, very exciting day, but I'll tell you we're not done. We need to execute a successful mission with SpaceX next week, and we'll need to take all of the learning out of this mission and apply it to our upcoming crewed missions to make sure that we can deliver on our promise for delivering safe crew transportation to the International Space Station. Hans?

Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX: Yeah.

Kathy Lueders, CCP: [away from mic] You'll get all the hard questions! [laughter]

Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX: Yeah, it's very exciting. It's a week away from launch, a little over a week. And the FRR is a major milestone. And it's a big team, and we're coming together to review our work and make sure that everything is good to go. And so we're also doing this in the room where all the Shuttle FRRs, I've heard, have been done. So it's a really big deal for SpaceX, and of course for me personally, too. I do want to go back a little bit to Dragon 1 and just point out the differences. Can we roll the first video, maybe? Yeah, so this is Dragon 1, and there's a couple of sequences here. We have a lot of flight heritage by now. We've had 16 missions. Dragon 1, as you just saw, comes up on the R-bar [NOTE: R-bar is an approach vector extending from the center of the earth to the ISS] and then hovers under the station. It's very good to see there. And then gets grappled or gets caught by the arm, and that is one distinct difference from Dragon 1 and Dragon 2. Dragon 2 will actually dock at the station on its own and will not use the arm anymore. It will also not come up on the R-bar, at least not initially, but on the V-bar, which is in the [station's] flight vector direction.

There's a couple of other differences. For example, Dragon 1 has a solar array, and Dragon 2 has it on the side. But the key difference, and I'm going to show you a little bit more about Dragon 2 here in a second. Before we go there, can we roll the second one? Right now? The second video? Okay, here we go. So that's new Dragon, Crew Dragon, or Dragon 2. It's about the same size, 27 feet tall and has room for seven astronauts. That's obviously the main difference, inside there are seats for astronauts. There's a life support system. There's an interface, a console, so that the astronauts can take over if necessary and perform certain functions within Dragon. You can also see on the outside, there's a heatshield that's between Dragon and the trunk. The trunk looks distinctly different. It has fins, and it has a solar array on one side. It doesn't have the foldable solar array that Dragon 1 used to have. That's because we cut down on the power budget. We have enough power with less solar cells.

And let's see, what else? SuperDraco. SuperDracos are bigger. Dracos are our thrusters on Dragon, and the small thrusters are called Dracos, and then the bigger thrusters are called SuperDracos. And there's eight SuperDracos around Dragon, and these eight SuperDracos are acting as a launch escape systems. It's an integrated launch escape system that can work all the way from the pad, basically with the vehicle on the ground, all the way to the end of the second stage burn. And it can actually perform an orbit insertion in case you're a little bit short after the flight. So it's an integral safety system from beginning to the end, and that's obviously a huge point in terms of safety for the astronauts. We demonstrated the in-flight abort system in a pad abort, I want to say two years, three years ago? Maybe it's even longer? I don't remember. [gets the answer from the audience, makes a chagrined face] Four years ago. Already. [laughs] Time flies, ja? And we're going to have an in-flight abort mission after this mission, with this particular capsule. After it comes back.

We've done a lot of testing, too. We've done system level testing in thermal vacuum chambers. We've done acoustic testing on Dragon. Also on the integrated part. We've tested every single component. We've performed I don't know how many qualification tests. All in cooperation and step-by-step with NASA. You know, filling out verifications and making sure that we meet all requirements. We also did 17 parachute tests. So there's been a lot of work in the past two, three, four, five years that basically culminate in this particular flight, and that makes it even more exciting for our side.

There is a third video that shows the work we did on the pad, so maybe you want to roll that video now? [drone video of pad with cladding shown] Okay, this is the final configuration of Dragon 2, Crew Dragon on top of the Falcon 9. You can see, this is Pad 39A. We made, respectfully, a few changes on this historic launch pad. You see a crew arm that basically brings the astronauts over. And of course on the first flight there's no astronauts. It's just cargo, in this case, being loaded. And that's actually, those pictures have been taken at the static fire, which happened roughly two weeks ago. So we tested that integrated vehicle on the launch pad with Falcon 9 for a couple seconds, just to be ready for launch time next week.

And, let's see if I got everything. Yeah. Human spaceflight is basically the core mission of SpaceX, so we are really excited to do this. There's nothing more important for us than this endeavor. And we really appreciate the opportunity from NASA to actually do this and have a chance to fly up to the station, obviously Demo-1, and later on hopefully soon in-flight abort and Demo-2. So this is truly, really very much appreciated by everybody at SpaceX. We're excited about that. We want to do our best job. And we feel that we're in a good position for launch next week. Thank you.

Kirk Shireman, ISS Program: Good afternoon. Good evening. It's great to be here with you. You heard today about the Flight Readiness Review, which is really the next milestone in this race, this marathon that this team has been running. And it's a great team. It's a team of SpaceX, NASA, analysts from around the country who've been participating, working extremely hard to get us where we are today. The Flight Readiness Review really looks a lot at the analysis products and the testing results. Much like getting the hardware ready to go out to the pad, the FRR is like that same kind of event for all the analysis products. So it's really a great event. You'll hear us talk about this as being a flight test. Demo-1 is a flight test. And it absolutely is. Although we view it also as a real mission, a very critical mission. The ISS still has three people on board, and so this vehicle coming up to the ISS for the first time has to work. It has to work. And this team up here and the people who worked around the country to make this successful are very much aware of that. So while there are a lot of things to be learned, we have built and tested and analyzed and reviewed this vehicle just like any other vehicle that's going up to a human space vehicle.

So, we're very happy with the results today. We know that, like I said, there's three people on board. And it's also a significant investment. A significant investment for the United States, a significant investment for our partners. So you heard Bill mention about our Russian colleagues who had some concerns. We're going to continue to work with them on those concerns. But you understand the basis. First of all, they have an astronaut on board. A cosmonaut on board, Oleg Kononenko. And they have, of course, significant investment in that. So we'll keep working, and I'm sure we'll be successful in getting their concurrence.

A couple of really interesting things when this vehicle gets to ISS. It's going to dock to the International Docking Adapter. So the IDA, we call it IDA because we have to use acronyms, IDA was delivered to ISS in 2016, July of 2016 aboard Dragon 1. So here Dragon 2 is going to dock to something that was brought up on Dragon 1. It was actually installed in August of 2016 aboard a spacewalk. This will be the first time anyone has docked to it, and in fact some of the activities we have in preparation is actually to do an inspection before Dragon 2 arrives, and one of the activities as it undocks is to go do an inspection as it leaves. Over the years, we've done a number of EVAs to go prepare not only the IDA, but also to prepare some high definition cameras that will be watching the vehicle as it approaches. So we look forward to having this imagery available to us.

We have a tremendous amount of vehicle traffic coming to ISS all of the time. A tremendous number of activities that happen. And just to give you an idea of what's going on right now, of course we have the launch coming up here on the 2nd, but right on the heels of this launch and then ultimately the undock and return, right on the heels, on the 14th of March, we have a Soyuz, 58 Soyuz is coming up. We have three EVAs planned at the end of March, beginning of April. We have Northrop Grumman-11, the next cargo flight, coming up on the 17th of April, and then the SpaceX vehicle, a Dragon 1, coming up at the end of April. So you can see that this launch is really a perfect time for it to occur, but there's a busy time on board the International Space Station.

I had a chance to talk to the International Space Station crew yesterday, actually. We had a short conference. And on board of course is Anne McClain, David Saint-Jacques, and Oleg Kononenko. They were actually, there they are. They were all very excited and very much looking forward to having this vehicle come up. They were doing their training on board. They understand about all the procedures that are in place for them to monitor and even conduct some of the testing on the vehicle. And then of course ingress and remove the cargo and pack the cargo. The interesting thing about this flight is, at the same time that we're planning for the docking and the arrival of this vehicle, we're also planning for the undocking and the return of the vehicle.

So, let's see. You know, we view this vehicle not only as the crew transportation for our crews coming up, but it's also really, really important from a cargo standpoint. This same vehicle, same systems, will be flying our cargo starting on CRS-21. So really an important milestone for the International Space Station Program. Let me see, one last thing here. Well, like I said, this is a big milestone for us today. The crew on board is ready. The International Space Station Program is ready. We think this vehicle is in excellent shape, and we're ready to have it on board the International Space Station. So with that, let me hand it over to Norm Knight.

Norm Knight, JSC Flight Ops: Thank you, Kirk. I'm really honored to be here with my esteemed colleagues as we move one step closer to launching astronauts off US soil. We will assure that those astronauts are safe, from the time that they leave their families to go fly in space, to the time that they're reunited with their families. Last August, you probably remember the big press release in celebration, we announced the first NASA astronauts for the Commercial Crew flights. Some of those you saw in Kathy's chart. Very, very exciting time. But this journey actually started with the cargo missions. That's when these teams, the NASA teams and the SpaceX teams really started working together. They were forged together to go work and make Commercial Cargo a success. And that's when these teams started building trust. Building respect with each other, working through issues, and really learning to work together as an integrated team to solve common objectives. And building on that for commercial crew, we're doing that very well.

Our astronauts and engineers are engaged with SpaceX on both the Falcon and the Dragon, both in the development of the vehicle, with the space suits, training, cabin layout, crew displays, all aspects of operations in the control center. The interactions, daily interactions with the spacecraft. All the choreography that takes place for docking and undocking, we're working together as an integrated team, again, making certain that our astronauts are safe and that the International Space Station is safe in this endeavor. We're also working with SpaceX on astronaut training. So not only preparing for Demo-1 but looking ahead for those flights and getting prepared with it. The joint NASA/SpaceX operations team have been formally training for this critical Demo-1 mission since June of this last year. A lot of simulations, a lot of work that's been done by both teams. And as we talked today in the review, I can assure you that both of these teams are ready to go and are very excited about next week.

As Kirk mentioned, not all the activity is going on on the ground. There's a lot of activity going on in space. Our ISS Canadian David Saint-Jacques and our US astronaut Anne McClain, as Kirk said, they're really looking forward to Demo-1. They're already getting prepared for this. They're getting return cargo ready to go. They're doing their final preparations and training for this. On docking day, the crew wakes up, and it's going to be an exciting day. They're going to be configuring on board, getting ready for the vehicle arrival. Setting up monitors and displays for Dragon. Making sure that everything's where it needs to be. They'll be in the Cupola when the Dragon first appears, and it will be a very, very exciting day. And they'll monitor Dragon as it approaches ISS, assuring that it's within limits, all its operating parameters are where they need to be, and closely watching, again, to make sure the safety of Station is maintained.

While that's going on, our current ISS astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, they're our Commercial Crew astronauts that are slated for SpaceX, they're doing their preparations, they're working very closely with the SpaceX team for training. They're working with the crew displays configuration, reach and visibility, crew human factors, those kind of things. And a lot of that training is ongoing at the same time. So, while Demo-1 is the focus right now, teams are working very, very hard, looking forward to what's required for the next mission. We're excited in FOD for the Demo-1 mission. The teams are ready to go. We've been engaged along the way. And we're happy to be part of the NASA team that's really paving the road of human spaceflight that our commercial partners are going to travel on. That's really an important piece of this whole equation. So, looking forward to it. And looking forward to your questions.

Joshua Finch, Moderator: Thank you. And we will begin by taking questions from those in the room. We also have a phone bridge queued up. And then we can ask questions using the hashtag #askNASA. And so we'll begin here in the room. And we'll start in the front with Marcia.

Marcia Dunn, Associated Press: Marcia Dunn, Associated Press. For Hans. How will this Dragon, will it look, are there seats inside? Are there consoles? How much like or different is it as if a crew were on board flying? And will you have a Starman or Starwoman mannequin on board to test things out?

Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX: I want to say yes, everything is in place like the crew version. I mean, the Demo-2 version of Crew Dragon. As far as I know, it's identical. On all, you know, consoles and everything else. There's a, should I say dummy? Is that the right word? I'm not sure if that is the right word? [Looks to Kathy]

Kathy Lueders, CCP: ATD. ATD. [NOTE: Anthropomorphic Test Dummy]

Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX: ATD? [Kathy laughs] What?! [laughter]

Kathy Lueders, CCP: We prefer to not call them dummies, but... [laughter]

Kirk Shireman, ISS Program: Was there negative feedback?

Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX: Whatever the appropriate word for dummy is, there is one there. Yeah, I actually forgot to ask them the name. I know he or she has a name. But I don't remember the name right now. So yes, there's one, just one, ja. So there's a puppet, dummy, ATD(?), whatever it is, in there, and we measure the responses on the human body, obviously, and measure the environment. We want to make sure everything is perfect for, you know, the safety of the astronauts.

Marcia Dunn, Associated Press: And so, this'll be a suited up...?

Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX: Yeah. Suited up on the SpaceX suit. Yes.

Marcia Dunn, Associated Press: And what cargo are you taking up in general?

Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX: I think that's probably more a NASA question. [looks around room]

Kathy Lueders, CCP: A Kirk question.

Kirk Shireman, ISS Program: Sure. We're taking up, one of the cool things we're taking up is some radiation monitors. So we're actually going to load those relatively late. They're passive dosimeters, but they'll go on board, we'll bring them back home on this and measure the radiation environment. We're taking up some, I'll call it utilization hardware, really it's some hardware, some cold packs so we can bring some samples home. And we're bringing up various crew supplies. So I don't want to say a significant amount of cargo, not like a regular cargo flight, but we are taking advantage of this opportunity to launch some cargo. On the way down, we're bringing those radiation samples. We have the capability to bring some utilization samples home. It's hard to say just yet exactly what those will be. And also we had a failure of a part on one of our spacesuits as we were getting ready for these EVAs, and we're actually going to take this opportunity to bring home that piece of hardware that failed on us. So we're making good use of the up and down capabilities of this vehicle.

Bill Harwood, CBS News: Bill Harwood, CBS. I guess this is for Gerst. The backup dates. If you're going on the 2nd, you've got a Soyuz cutout coming, obviously, I'm just wondering how many shots you get in front of the cutout. And can you give us an update at all on COPVs for Demo-2. I realize it's not an issue for this one probably, but down the road. Where that stands. Any other outstanding items like that. And finally, can you give us, I don't understand what the Russian concern was on rendezvous on the V-bar and abort options. So, whatever you can tell me.

Bill Gerstenmaier, HEOMD: Alright. So I'll start through all of those. So, first of all, the launch is right now set on the 2nd of March, with the docking on the 3rd and a return or undock on the 8th. And then, I don't have the exact dates, but the press folks can get them for you, the dates will move a little bit to the right. [Looks at Kathy]

Kathy Lueders, CCP: The 5th and the 8th.

Bill Gerstenmaier, HEOMD: Yeah, the 5th and the 8th.

Kirk Shireman, ISS Program: And then I'm showing the 9th, Kathy. Anyway, it's threading the needle, because you have not only launch constraints, and we have the Soyuz cutout as you mentioned, but there's also looking at the landing and having lighted landing conditions. So a few other ops constraints.

Bill Gerstenmaier, HEOMD: So what's driving the launch dates is first of all, we want to keep the docking time about 24 hours, because of some thermal constrains on SpaceX. So that sets when we can launch. And then we want to return under lighted conditions so we can see the parachute activity during return. And then we also want it lighted for the water recovery of the capsule. So those kind of set those three dates. So we have those three opportunities before the Soyuz cutout. So we think that's a reasonable amount of time.

You asked about Composite Overwrapped Pressure Vessels. We're still working through that for the crewed flight. Again, the way we do things in human spaceflight is, we not only need to meet the design, but we need to understand physically which parameters are driving a bad outcome. So for example, what are the ignition parameters that could cause a COPV to ignite? And then we need to show physical controls of how we prevent those individual physical parameters from contributing to the final event. So I think we've done the statistical analysis that says hey, this is a very low probability event, it's not going to happen very often. But now we're going through what are the physics behind that? What could be an ignition source? So one of the things are the Composite Overwrapped Pressure Vessel has fibers that are twisted together into things called tows. As those pressurize, they can break. And as they break, they can potentially generate heat. If they can generate enough heat in the oxygen environment, they can be an ignition source. So now we're going back and we're proving to ourselves that this breaking is so unlikely that it's not going to be a concern to cause an ignition event and cause the problem moving forward. So that's one example of the things we're working.

We're working several other things on this vehicle that we've just discovered. And so I would say the vehicle is not fully qualified. So, in other words, we haven't set the total envelope of where some of the hardware can operate and how it can be used. But we know the hardware is good enough to go do this demonstration flight. In fact, we want it to go to flight to see if there's something else we missed. And we fully expect to learn some things on this flight. And then we'll go through a more rigorous problem solving methods just like I described for you on the COPV. But we'll do that with each one of these things. There's some stuff in the thruster area. There's some stuff in the parachute area. There's some stuff in the propellant system area. Some more Composite Overwrapped Pressure Vessels actually on the Dragon tank. Et cetera, et cetera. So there's a handful of things. This is very typical. We find these things out. We figure out how to work them. We figure out how to be ready to go fly. We're acceptable to go fly. But then we're going to be more rigorous. We're going to understand the physics. We're going to maybe redesign some of these things. And they'll show up redesigned when we come around and go fly crew in the future.

Then the last thing you were asking about was on the velocity vector, what is the concern. The concern is, in the past, the international partners have sometimes had a box or a system that was separate from the main computers. So if something happened with all the main computers, and they all shut down, another box would kick in. It would do a breakout maneuver and maneuver the vehicle safely away from Space Station. That was in the Japanese cargo vehicle, it was in the European Automated Transfer Vehicle, but in the case of SpaceX, we just have the computer strings. And they're fault tolerant in themselves, but there isn't a separate box to do this breakout. We think that's acceptable. One of the actions that I assigned a team to go look a little more rigorously at what some of the fault detection, identification and response is, to various failures on the velocity vector. To make sure that the computers do all the right things. That we don't get in a situation where essentially the vehicle goes dead or dormant and just continues its approach, and then collides with Station. So that's the basic concern that the Russians brought up. Why isn't there a separate system or a separate box to go provide this backup capability? We think we have sufficient rationale for that. They asked me in December, I talked to them about it a little bit then. Through the furlough activity, I wasn't diligent enough to stay in contact with them. We'll follow up with them this week, and I don't think it'll be a problem once we go through the details of why it's safe and we can explain to them why we're moving forward.

But again, I see this as a really healthy process. We ask everyone, what are their concerns? What are their issues? Bring them forward, and we can talk about them and work them out. And we get better by doing this. And I think we're in very, very good shape. I'm very comfortable with where we're heading towards this flight. I fully expect we're going to learn something on this flight. I guarantee everything will not work exactly right. And that's cool. That's exactly what we want to do. We want to maximize our learning so we can get this stuff ready, so that when we put crew on, we're ready to go do a real crewed mission. And it'll be the right safety for our crews.

Irene Klotz, Aviation Week: Irene Klotz with Aviation Week. Can you give us a number of how many test objectives you're looking to accomplish on Demo-1. And I have a follow up.

Kathy Lueders, CCP: I can't off the top of my head. I mean, we can find out. We have a flight test plan where we have them all listed. And what our primary flight objectives and secondary flight objectives are. Stephanie will... I don't have them right here with me, but they kind of cover the key areas that I put up on the slide, right? But we do have primary and secondary objectives that we've gone through that are in the flight test plan. But they cover kind of the key aspects of the things you would want a demonstration mission to include, including obviously showing your rendezvous, docking capability, making sure that all the interfaces are working with Station, the key interfaces are working with Station. And then your undocking and reentry capabilities. Kind of going back on the question I was asked for Hans, we've worked with SpaceX on instrumenting the vehicle for this test mission so that we can get key on-orbit environmental data that's unique for the test flight, so that we can be able to apply it to all the models and analytical closure, a lot of our requirements require detailed analysis. And so this test flight allows us to ground those analyses and be able to use them. So this vehicle inside has a lot of instrumentation, we're getting a lot of imagery on the vehicle as it's coming back, and that's why we're trying to choreograph the mission the way it is, so that we can get as much data from the mission as possible.

Irene Klotz, Aviation Week: Thanks, and for Bill, when do you think that you will need to decide whether to turn the Boeing Crew Flight Test into an extended ISS stay?

Bill Gerstenmaier, HEOMD: We'll probably decide, first, we'll do the uncrewed flight with Boeing, and then we have a pad abort test with Boeing, and then we'd come up with the flight. So it'd be towards the end of this year, probably, is when we'd decided if we want to make the Crewed Test Flight more of a mission kind of duration.

Stephen Clark, Spaceflight Now: Hi, Stephen Clark from Spaceflight Now. Gerst, you mentioned some open issues with the thrusters and parachutes. Can you go into a little detail about those like you did with the COPVs? I know that's not an issue for this flight, but down the road with crew. And I have a follow up.

Bill Gerstenmaier, HEOMD: Yeah, I guess in the parachute world, we're still in the middle of the qualification program. So that's this process that I just described to you, where we're looking at the physical parameters of how the chutes operate, and have we covered all the corners of the envelope in testing? So the teams are still doing parachute drops, they're still doing parachute testing. That needs to be completed. That needs to be understood. So there's some work that needs to be done there. So that's I would say, open work. The teams need to discuss that data back and forth on the parachute side. But I think we're comfortable that this parachute system is perfectly good for DM-1. It could be also okay for DM-2 the way it is. But we need to get through this qualification testing and understand how much margin we have in certain areas to see if it's the right thing to do. On the thrusters, there's a portion of the thruster that can actually break free, and liberate, and come out of the thruster. I think we understand why that occurs. We can control that by operating the thrusters in a certain manner, keeping temperatures at a certain temperature, keeping the propellant conditions exactly the right way. In the future, we'd like to understand, to maybe make a change to that. To either keep the thermal system, keep the propellant warm in the vehicle without having to do attitude control to keep the propellant warm. So that'll be another change that's coming in the propulsion system. Composite Overwrapped Pressure Vessels, they also sit in the Dragon system as well, and there are some changes that need to be made to those too, as we discovered in the testing of those systems.

Stephen Clark, Spaceflight Now: And the thrusters, are they the SuperDracos or the Dracos?

Bill Gerstenmaier, HEOMD: They're the Dracos. And Hans, if he wants to say more, he can.

Joshua Finch, Moderator: Yeah, Hans, if you want to--

Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX: I thought you actually expressed it really well. [laughter]

Bill Gerstenmaier, HEOMD: Okay, alright.

Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX: It's basically a continuous testing, and finishing up on the qualification, and working the experience that we learn during the qualification into the system, on the system level. Basically.

Kathy Lueders, CCP: I think we learn, I think we talk a lot about learning from the cargo missions. And how there's this cross. And so, there had been a thruster failure on the cargo missions, and we had finished up, actually, were in the process of finishing up qualification testing on the Crew Dragon and found this failure. And so we had to go figure out what was causing the failure, and the SpaceX folks have done a tremendous amount of testing over the last four or five months. And now we've isolated it to operating in this low, this kind of cold condition. And so we're totally avoiding that condition on this mission by controlling the operational parameters of the mission.

Emre Kelly, Florida Today: Hi, Emre Kelly with Florida Today. Hans, can we get just a post-launch... I'm assuming the booster will return to LZ-1? And regarding 39A, can you go into some details about exactly which changes you've made out physically to the pad?

Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX: So this booster will land on the drone ship. So it lands forward and will be towed back to the harbor before it will be refurbished. And used again, obviously. With respect to 39A, you probably remember there was this white room on the side that was, I want to say, a little bit in the way to launch a Falcon 9. So the white room was removed. The arm, I think it was called, was completely removed. The tower itself is pretty much as it was originally. The crew arm is on there. However, the crew arm is a little bit higher up than the bridge was for the shuttle, and I think it's also a little bit longer, if I'm not mistaken. So those are the main things. There's some changes on the ground in terms of a densification plant and some details on the pressurant gasses that we're using.

Kathy Lueders, CCP: It's also covered. The crew, when we walked the crew access arm, they're happy that it's covered.

Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX: True.

Kathy Lueders, CCP: And we're trying to keep the mosquitoes out. [laughter] But those Florida mosquitoes, they can get in anywhere, even inside that Crew Access Arm.

Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX: I'd forgot that, the old Shuttle one was an open bridge, actually.

Emre Kelly, Florida Today: Is it air conditioned?

Kathy Lueders, CCP: Yep.

Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX: Yep.

Emre Kelly, Florida Today: And is there a reason why it's not LZ-1 but it's drone ship instead?

Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX: Yes. Sorry?

Emre Kelly, Florida Today: Is there a reason why it's drone ship instead of LZ-1 this time for an ISS mission?

Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX: It's just a performance issue. We might go back to LZ-1 in the future, but you want to reserve all margin that we have right now. And that allows us to do that. And it's a very lofted trajectory, too. Which makes it benign for an abort. So that's the primary reason.

Joshua Finch, Moderator: And we're now going to take a question from the phone. We have Joey Roulette from Reuters. Joey?

Joey Roulette, Reuters: Hey guys, thanks so much for doing this. This is for Kathy and William. We've heard NASA has a list of 30 to 35 technical concerns for both SpaceX and Boeing. Can you speak to that? And I know there's a lot to learn on this mission and the next one, but how confident are you able to say now that a crewed mission will happen this year in 2019?

Kathy Lueders, CCP: So we're not quite sure where the 30 to 35 number comes from, but I will tell you we are constantly... With our joint teams, we have a risk process that... We are constantly talking about what risk... Every human spaceflight program has risks that are out there. And the way you manage your risks is that you identify them and then you work them off. And so we are always constantly talking about what are we worried about to make sure we identify it. And as you're moving up to a mission, you need to consistently be looking for things that you should be worried about and making sure that you've identified all those that you have, and that they're addressed. And so we on DM-1, with SpaceX, have been going through all the risks on this missions. And we, from a program standpoint, have bought off all those risks over this last three months together. And we right now do not have any open, joint risks that we're carrying for this mission. It's been part of our FRR process, and it was the reason why I could tell Mr. Gerstenmaier that, for this mission, that we were ready to go fly.

Now, we still have testing to go do over this next week. And we have a mission from yesterday that we have to go look at the data, and go see and analyze. And so there may be something coming up that we've got to go look at and pay attention to before the mission. But this is part of spaceflight. Kirk everyday has to go and pay attention to what the hardware's telling them on orbit. For DM-2, we are still working through and we have a numerous number of risks that we are working toward for DM-2. But that's a separate mission. That's kind of what Kirk said. I think we are working to be ready for DM-1 right now, and I feel like we've closed out all of our requirements with the Space Station Program and worked through them. And the good thing about the FRR process is, Hans was joking earlier, he goes, we should just celebrate that we're done with FRR, because I feel like we've been doing FRRs for the last week. [laughter] But part of that is for us to make sure that we're overturning every single rock and making sure that we understand the risks and closing out the risks and making sure we're ready to fly. And so, I will tell you, I'm ready to fly now. And it's what I told Mr. Gerstenmaier today. And it's why we go through the process that we have, to make sure that we are ready to fly with the risks that we have.

Kirk Shireman, ISS Program: And if I could just add one thing. Please don't confuse closing the risks out with there being no risk. What we do is we actually look at the risks, we try to mitigate the risks we can, and then at the end what we can't mitigate we look at, it is an acceptable risk or is it not? And frankly, that's what the FRR process is. It's essentially, we've closed everything out we could, and we've assessed the risks of the things we couldn't, and then we as a program, as an agency, look at that and say, yes, it's acceptable to proceed. But when we say the risks are closed, no one should walk away saying it's a risk-free endeavor. There is still risk remaining.

Kathy Lueders, CCP: Yeah, that's a good point. There's always risk. It's just, do we understand what the risk is with the data that we have? Or is there more data that we need to get to understand what that risk is?

Joshua Finch, Moderator: We'll now take another question from the phone. We have Eric Berger from Ars Technica. Eric?

Eric Berger, Ars Technica: Yeah, hi. Thanks very much for doing this. Question for Gerst. You worked early on in the Shuttle, you were involved in the station before they cut metal, and I'm just wondering what this program has been like for development at NASA, this human space vehicle. And how has the fixed-price process worked for you, worked for NASA?

Bill Gerstenmaier, HEOMD: [slowly looks around the room] This'll be interesting to answer. [laughter] I would say, first of all, it's really exciting doing development and getting ready to go fly. I mean, I as a human being am somehow wired to go fly and go do stuff. And I think Kirk described it very appropriately, right? We're doing things that are really risky and most human beings don't do. And the designs and complexity of what we have to do when we're strapping human beings on top of rockets with millions of pounds of thrust and hurling them into orbit to go attach to a space station to do world-cutting research, that isn't trivial. And then when you start the design process for that, it is not easy in any way, shape, or form. But it's exciting to see what the teams can do, and how they work together, and how they accomplish things. We're all trying to solve the same physical problems, and it's fun working with a new partner that approaches the problem in a slightly different way. They don't carry the same background that we did at NASA and they don't approach the design exactly the same way we do. And that's cool. That's really neat. And it's the same thing with the international partners. They approach the same physical problems in a different way. And that actually makes us stronger.

We talk sometimes about the SpaceX culture being slightly different than the NASA culture. I really thing that's a tremendous attribute of this combined team. We're bringing these two cultures together, and a different heritage, and a different way of doing business, and actually building a much stronger system than we would if we did it individually. If we did it the NASA way, we'd do it the classic old way. We would do it, the way we'd move forward, we would base it on our pedigree and our other activities. This way they're pushing us, and they're forcing us to look at new things and look at doing stuff a different way. And I think that's really cool. Because then that gets our engineers all excited. They go, "Wow, we didn't think of it that way, we can make this work. Ooh!" And then the SpaceX guys hear our experience of what we learned, of doing testing for a couple years and saying this doesn't work, and they go a different way. And the teaming and working together is building a much, much healthier system moving forward.

So, I think we're going to have a very strong system moving forward. I'm happy with the process the way it came together. It's exciting for me because I think there's more development going on in the agency than I've probably ever seen. Between what we're doing with SLS and Orion. What we're doing with SpaceX. What we're doing with Boeing. And then operating the space station. This is an awesome time to be in spaceflight.

Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX: And I do want to point out, it's great the other way around too. I mean, we learn from NASA. NASA has an incredible experience on flight data and missions that obviously not a single company or person can have. And so we're learning with this extremely experienced team. They keep us honest. We have a, I want to say, constructive conflict sometimes, and discussions. How to do this right. And I'm absolutely convinced that, if we do this right, we get the best result at the end, and the safest capsule for the best astronauts we could possibly have. If you would not do that, you would probably just pick one solution and not even explore left and right, and end up with a mediocre product. And so I really, SpaceX as a company really appreciates NASA's input, and NASA's feedback, and NASA's continuous drive to make things better.

Joshua Finch, Moderator: And we have some questions from social media.

NASA Social Media: Hey, Shuttle Discovery on twitter would like to know, will the astronauts on board the ISS be able to board Crew Dragon during its stay?

Kirk Shireman, ISS Program: Not only will they be able to, we're counting on them to. So yes, one of the very first things after Dragon arrives is they're going to ingress the Dragon. So they'll be in there. There's cargo to be offloaded, cargo to be installed. It'll be great. Photographs, the crew's going to take some photographs from inside there. I think everyone will get to share in that experience.

NASA Social Media: Thank you. We have one more from twitter, from Keith Ross. He says, I know this will be uncrewed, but will it be weighted to simulate a fully crewed launch?

[long pause]

Kirk Shireman, ISS Program: I would think yes, right? [laughter] Close enough.

Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX: Yes.

Kathy Lueders, CCP: It's pretty close. It's pretty close. I mean, every vehicle weighs a little bit different, but it's close enough to simulate, obviously, the crewed flight test. People don't weigh that much different. If they do, they may not be astronauts. [laughs, looks to her left] It's why you're not an astronaut. [laughs] Sorry. [laughter] Okay. Kirk told me I need to take a nap during that four hours, so maybe this is true, now.

Joshua Finch, Moderator: Bill Harwood.

Bill Harwood, CBS News: For Gerst one more time. You were speaking, and all of you have been speaking, about managing risk. What is the latest that you're shooting for, for Demo-2, in terms of a probabilistic risk assessment for Loss of Vehicle / Loss of Crew? What's the target?

Kathy Lueders, CCP: I think the target's still either the 1 in 270 with operational mitigations, or 1 in 200 without operational mitigations. And so both providers are finishing up their final PRA assessment but I think we're getting pretty close.

Irene Klotz, Aviation Week: I had a similar follow on, which is, with this be such a short docked period, is there any test objectives that are going to help reduce the, or assess the Loss of Crew / Loss of Vehicle numbers with, regarding MMOD, or you're not really going to get much info from doing the Demo-1 flight test?

Kathy Lueders, CCP: I mean, we always learn from the vehicle. And we do a, it's actually to help us assess MMOD damage, we're going to do a robotic photo survey, inspection, of the vehicle before, on Demo-1. But really we analytically close that out using our models, the MMOD debris models and our shielding models. And the vehicle design. So we assess the vehicle design with how well it can protect itself from the model that we have of the debris.

Bill Gerstenmaier, HEOMD: And I think it's also really, you've got to be really careful with these numbers, right? We talked the mean value, the 1 in 275, the 1 in 200, the 1 in 500. There's a big spread about that, and that's the uncertainty in the model. And we're continually discovering failure modes that we didn't put into the model. So the model is just a mathematical representation of what we think we're flying. So I know it's easy to grab the number, and use the number, and carry that number forward, but it's not, that is not really a very fair representation of what the risk is. It's better to, it's harder, but it's better to go look at the discrete risks we know, and the unknown risks, it gives you a representative field. But don't think of it as an absolute value or an absolute number that, if you're two percentage points below, or two percentage points above, you're safe or unsafe. It's not like that. There's not that sophistication in the analysis.

Irene Klotz, Aviation Week: Where do you stand on the flights of the COPV 2 that need to be done prior to Demo-2?

Kathy Lueders, CCP: We're actually pretty, I mean, we've been flying, I think, how many mission have you flown the, the 2.0?

Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX: It's three or four so far.

Kathy Lueders, CCP: So we've actually had quite a few. But the Demo-1 design is the design that we're planning to use for Demo-2, actually. I'll just add to what Gerst said about COPVs. We've made tremendous progress on finalizing the design, certification activities... We actually just have a few open areas in our final certification on the 2.0s. So I think over this last year and a half, we've made incredible progress on doing final certification on those 2.0s. And right now the Demo-2 design is flying on Demo-1. And is the same that has flown on the previous three or four Block 5 Falcon 9s.

Joshua Finch, Moderator: We have time for two more questions.

Marcia Dunn, Associated Press: Marcia Dunn, Associated Press. Where specifically will splashdown occur, and will you have any flexibility if you need to change that location?

Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX: Actually that's a good point. I forgot to mention that earlier. Splashdown is in the Atlantic. So it's within reach of Florida, basically. I'm not sure exactly, it's like a couple hundred miles so that we can get the capsule in pretty quickly. It's similar to when we land on the west coast. It's easier to process Dragon after that, and that's why we do it over here. Yeah, I guess that answered your question already right?

Marcia Dunn, Associated Press: Could you change to the Pacific if you needed to. How much flexibility--

Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX: Not easily. There's a lot of planning I would say. From Dragon's perspective, of course, that would be possible. But in terms of planning and our coordination with the different agencies that own the ocean, that takes awhile.

Kathy Lueders, CCP: What people don't realize is you have to get airspace cleared. So we've had to show, to get our trajectory cleared for the splashdown. And this splashdown is farther out, because it is a demonstration mission. So actually the folks will be out on the recovery boat, going out for the mission to get ready. When we have the crewed missions, they'll be closer in, because we have a requirement to get the crew back to handover within a certain period of time. Within two hours. So we'll be closer.

Joshua Finch, Moderator: Hi, Dan Billow, WESH-TV. What is the policy on use of a reused booster, now and going forward, for any crew flight. Is it okay to use a reused booster?

Kathy Lueders, CCP: Right now, what SpaceX is contracted for with us is new vehicles. And so we are certifying using brand new vehicles. That doesn't mean that at some point, if they came in and said, "We would like to certify," that that wouldn't been something we would look at, but right now our baseline certification is for a new vehicle every time.

Joshua Finch, Moderator: And we'll do one final question from Stephen.

Stephen Clark, Spaceflight Now: Hi, Stephen Clark, Spaceflight Now, again. One question for maybe Hans or Kathy. Do you know about what the weight of the spacecraft is, in terms of pounds or kilograms at launch with all the fuel and cargo or crew loaded. About how heavy is it? And a little way ahead for the next week, you mentioned testing and analysis, what sort of milestones do you have over the next seven days to get ready for the launch? Fueling of the spacecraft with hypergolic fuel, et cetera.

Kathy Lueders, CCP: Well, the spacecraft, I'll have Stephanie get the specifics, she can get the specific weight, but the spacecraft's fueled right now. It's fueled, it's ready to go. It's over. And our folks have been following along with the fueling operation. We're moving towards obviously getting ready for Launch Readiness Review, which I think right now is the 27th. And we're rolling out to the pad on the 28th.

Bill Gerstenmaier, HEOMD: I think what was encouraging in the Flight Readiness Review is, typically, we carry what we call standard open work. In other words, that's the normal work you need to get ready to go fly. And then we also carry what we call non-standard open work. Stuff that needs to get resolved. What was interesting in this review is we really have no non-standard open work to go. We'll do this one action that I described to you about the velocity vector activity, but other than that, all that work is complete. So the only work between now and launch is what we would consider standard work and standard close-out of activities moving forward. So that shows you that we're fully ready to go do this DM-1 flight next Saturday.

Kathy Lueders, CCP: And I'll tell you, even his action is done. It's just that we have to go collect it. We couldn't answer the question at the meeting, so now we gotta go collect that data. It's all in our hazard report process that we've assessed. We're going to go collect it and be able to give it to Mr. Gerst tomorrow or Monday.

Joshua Finch, Moderator: And that's all the time we have. I want to thank you for joining us. Again, launch is scheduled for March 2nd at 2:48AM Eastern Time. You can watch NASA TV coverage of that. We also have more coming up next week on NASA Television. You can continue to follow us along on social media or online. And you can follow more about the mission at Thank you.

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